Hello Leeds: Leeds photography project snaps up £9,000 National Lottery funding to put unpaid carers in the frame

A Leeds photography project has received over £9,000 in National Lottery funding following a programme designed to support unpaid carers.

By Alex Grant
Sunday, 19th December 2021, 4:45 am

A South Leeds arts organisation is celebrating after receiving a National Lottery cash boost of £9,400.

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The Skippko Arts team will use the funding to run a community photography programme for unpaid carers – a group which has had an incredibly difficult time during the pandemic.

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The Skippko Arts team will use the funding to run a community photography programme for unpaid carers. Picture: Nicki Taylor.

The hope is to provide positive activities to help improve carers' wellbeing while celebrating their achievements and telling their story. This vital funding has been awarded by The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK.

Arthur Stafford, Director of Skippko, said: “As a carer you’re rarely alone but you can be very emotionally lonely. There are about 74,000 unpaid carers in Leeds. Their health and wellbeing are crucial in a city where the proportion of people above 65 – the age from which more people are cared for – is expected to rise to 18 per cent by 2030.”

Participants involved in the programme get to enjoy some much needed 'me time' and the chance to switch off from their caring responsibilities.

"During the sessions, unless people want to talk about their caring roles, we tend to talk about other things because we want to just focus on the person as an individual." said Cath Brooke, Arts Project Manager for Skippko "They get to create something that’s meaningful to them. They can focus their photography on what interests them, so we have some members who love nature and wildlife and others who like telling their story by photographing objects around the house."

Participants involved in the programme get to enjoy some much needed 'me time' and the chance to switch off from their caring responsibilities. Picture: Nicki Taylor.

The project prides itself on being as flexible as possible for its attendees recognising that as a carer, plans can be forced to change at a moments notice.

During the coronavirus lockdowns of 2020, Skippko ran three online ‘at-home’ photography projects for carers, one of which was called Shutter Stories. These gave unpaid carers a chance to be creative and make connections with other carers, receive support, and feel less isolated.

One participant said: “It was great to have something creative to do during lockdown that could alleviate the tensions and worries that come with living through a pandemic. It was very helpful to feel part of the community created by being part of the Shutter Stories group during this very isolating time.”

Commenting on their new National Lottery funding Cath said: “We simply couldn’t run this project without this funding so a huge ‘thank you’ to National Lottery players. The funding will help pay for two professional artists to facilitate the project.

"It will also cover printing costs as we like to have all the pictures professionally printed and we send them out to the participants, which is a lovely treat for them to see their work like this. At the end of the project, we will also have an exhibition and people are so proud to see their work on display. There will also be a beautifully printed book of their work.”

Joe Dobson, Head of Funding for Yorkshire and Humber at The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “Thanks to National Lottery players, this vital funding will have a huge impact on people’s lives across Leeds.

“The last year has been incredibly challenging for communities and we applaud the volunteers and groups that have been a lifeline to so many. As we all look to the future, we’re excited to see how local groups will use this funding to further support their communities to prosper and thrive.”

Leeds isn’t alone in benefiting from National Lottery funding. Today it was announced that over £65 million has been distributed to over 1,920 community organisations across England in the past three months.

National lottery players raise over £30 million each week for good causes across the UK.

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